Asmara Eritrea - September 26th 2004
Sleeping from 5:00 to 8:00 is
to short have a good rest. I buy myself some breads in a nearby
supermarket. It is open, even though it is Sunday. Four breads for 1.40
Nakfa. I wonder if there is any profit for those who have to wake up early
to bake and distribute them. I have heart that it is the government that
fixes the price, to protect the poor peoples purchasing power.
With no program today, I just
take the bus to one of the bus terminals, trying to pick up ideas. But
even on the bus terminals it is quiet. There is only a limited number of buses
to nearby villages (and back!). When I see one of the more unusual buses, the heavy duty bus to Haz Haz (has to climb a hill in Asmara), I
decide to board.
In Haz Haz I do my best to
explore even the remotest places, and more than once the people are
wondering where I am going. "To Haz Haz", I tell them, to avoid
any unwanted help. They do not understand. "This is Haz Haz",
they reply. "I know". I watch the people living their everyday
life, the children leave their houses to anounce the white man in their
street. And after a while a group of ten children is following me. Untill
one of the parents tell them not to do so.
After a few hundred
meters the story repeats itself. I turn around and start walking in the opposite
direction. The children are confused. Now they are the one's being
followed. They want to shake hands, or want me to picture them: "se'alena,
se'alena '" Some want some money. I wisely do not give them any. If I
would, the whole village would be following me.
Some of the children are
preparing torches for the eve of Meskel. Tonight they will soak them in gasoline
and light them. "What is your name?", they ask. I ask them their
name. Shake hands with them, and greet their parents when they appear in
the door opening to see what is happening.
I walk to every edge of this
little village, to enjoy the views, the sun, the freedom to walk without
any fear for harassment. In one of the small shops I buy a bottle of mango
juice. When I start drinking, the girl offers me her chair. As her guest I
Descending the hill and
entering Mai Temenai, I hear the drums indicating a wedding ceremony.
Eritreans have an open wedding
policy. Anyone who passes the ceremony is welcome to attend it. And
hospitality towards foreigners is expressed by making you the honored
So I HAVE to come in. Eat
injera and drink suwa. And drink more suwa. The boys tell me how they
admire the famous Dutch football players. The men want me to share their
group and eat and drink with them. The women give me their smiles. Small
children want to see the display of my camera. Their parents direct them
very strict to their own corner of the tent.
The family of the bride and
bridegroom are negotiating the details of the wedding a few blocks from
her, dressing the bride, preparing the wedding cake. In the meantime the
audience will wait. And chat for hours. At 19:00 the band starts to play
their wedding repertoire, and the bride and bridegroom enter the tent.
Coptic Church - Haz Haz Asmara Eritrea.
Abune Tekle-Haimanot Coptic
Church - Haz Haz Asmara Eritrea.
Children preparing their torches
for Meskel eve - Haz Haz Asmara Eritrea.
View from the plateau - Haz Haz Asmara Eritrea.
Traditional houses (Agdos) - Haz Haz Asmara Eritrea.
Welcome at the wedding ceremony - Mai Temenai
Beating of the drums at the wedding ceremony - Mai
Family gathered at the wedding ceremony - Mai Temenai Asmara Eritrea.
the guest book at the wedding ceremony - Mai Temenai.
Drinking Suwa at the wedding ceremony - Mai
Temenai Asmara Eritrea.
The band at the wedding ceremony - Mai
Temenai Asmara Eritrea.
Bride and bridegroom at the wedding ceremony - Mai